ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– Thousands of college athletes have taken advantage of the transfer portal and the new transfer rule that allows them to transfer once without having to sit out a year.  One of those athletes is former Guilford football player Julius Coates.

Coates was a key player on the Arkansas Razorbacks defense last season. He played seven games at defensive end and was an explosive edge rusher. He has two sacks, three tackles-for-loss and two quarterback hurries. Despite that success he decided he wanted to play his final year somewhere else, so he transferred to Texas Tech.

“I just felt like it was time for me to be at a new spot, a new opportunity. Just a new environment for somewhere where I can go and start to grow and play. A better fit for me.”

“I’ve got a great relationship with the D-line coach at Texas Tech coach (Paul) Randolph. We really hit it off.”

Coates was mostly a receiver at Guilford, and he played some cornerback. He was tall and lanky, but when he got to East Mississippi Community College he bulked up and he was converted to defensive end.

“Coach Kyler told me I could come down there and play defensive end. They said it was a great fit for me, and they told me I’d probably be able to go to any school that I want to, and they were right, so it worked out pretty well.”

At Arkansas Coates played in the rugged SEC. At Texas Tech he’ll play Big 12 competition including Oklahoma and Texas. That level of play will prepare him for what he hopes will be his next step.

“A year from now I hope to be in the NFL. Go through the draft process and find a team I can be successful at.”

There’s a long line of Texas Tech football players who have made in the NFL. The most famous one now is Patrick Mahomes. Coates hasn’t met Mahomes yet, but he hopes to.

“I haven’t met him, but that will probably be in the future. That might be exciting to do. That’ll be great to meet him.”

Coates is back home in Rockford for a short while visiting family before he heads back to Texas.